In Summit County, Where Colorado’s First Positive Coronavirus Case Was Found, It’s Mostly Business As Usual

March 6, 2020
A shelf emptied of cleaning supplies at a Walmart in Summit County.A shelf emptied of cleaning supplies at a Walmart in Summit County.Hayley Sanchez/CPR News
A shelf emptied of cleaning supplies at a Walmart in Summit County.

While some residents in Summit County aren’t too worried about coronavirus spreading, they’re taking the appropriate precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“I have been trying to keep my hands away from my face and my nose and my mouth,” said Jane Kralik at the Breckenridge Recreation Center. “I never realized how much I touch my face.” 

Kralik was reading a newspaper article about Colorado’s first positive case of COVID-19 inside the rec center Friday afternoon. It had been less than 24 hours since Gov. Jared Polis announced that a man who had traveled from out-of-state to Summit County tested positive for the disease, the first in Colorado.

Bill Fiedelman had just finished working out at the rec center, and like Kralik, he said he wasn’t nervous about going to public places. He said he’s going to keep doing the same things he always does to prepare for cold and flu season — wash his hands. 

Hayley Sanchez/CPR News
Bill Fiedelman at the Breckenridge Recreation Center.

“It’s going to be everywhere,” he said. “I think everybody is a little bit nervous but I don’t think there’s any panic going on. It’s like a lot of other viruses that have gone around over the years. At some point, it’ll pass, hopefully soon.” 

Tom Quinn is a clinical psychologist who was visiting Breckenridge from Boston and traveled through Denver International Airport, the same place the man who tested positive for COVID-19 had been on Feb. 29. Quinn said he’s keeping perspective by comparing the coronavirus outbreak to the 1918 influenza pandemic, when 50 million people died worldwide.

“What you want to resist is panicking and think logically and rationally about the particular situation and go to the CDC and listen to your doctors,” he said. “I probably am more likely to die from a heart attack than the coronavirus.”

Hayley Sanchez/CPR News
Tom Quinn is visiting Summit County from Boston.

Locals in Frisco, Breckenridge and Silverthorne talked about coronavirus in passing. “Wash your hands,” some murmured, while others gave each other advice on how to make their own disinfectant solution. 

The shelves of cleaning supplies were near-empty at the Walmart in Frisco. Jan Brewer was there to pick up goods for her rental property cleaning service, 2 Brew Services. Brewer said she’s a little worried about coronavirus from a business perspective and possible cancelations. 

“The month of March is the busiest month up here,” Brewer said.

She added that one employee didn’t show up to work over concerns about catching the virus.

“We’re just wearing gloves and using anti-viral disinfectant in the units and bleach on the sheets," she said.

Andy Andrews, a manager at Noodles and Co. in Dillon, was also at Walmart looking for Lysol for his employees. He said they’ve stepped up cleaning the bathrooms, door handles and surfaces from every two hours to every 30 minutes. 

“We want to make everybody safe when they come and eat in the restaurant,” he said. “I'm going to probably go to Safeway and City Market or a couple of other places to find what I need. Our company is sending us some stuff, but I just wanted to grab some stuff today before I went into work so that everybody is safe.” 

Security guards stood outside St. Anthony's Summit Medical Center in Frisco, where the first COVID-19 patient went to seek care, asking people on their way in if they had any respiratory symptoms like a cough.

Hayley Sanchez/CPR News
Security guards stand outside the doors to St. Anthony's Summit Medical Center in Frisco, where Colorado's first confirmed coronavirus patient went to seek care days earlier.

COVID-19 isn’t the only virus Summit County has been dealing with. A mumps outbreak blew up from two to 26 in Keystone in February, mostly among resort employees. 

Steve Lipsher, a spokesman for the team working on monitoring COVID-19, said the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment is taking over monitoring mumps. 

“The Coronavirus case has complicated our resources and our abilities to respond to both of them,” he said. “That has freed up our local investigators then to start doing the contact investigation of trying to figure it out who possibly could have come in contact with this patient who is the first case we've had.”

Lipsher said the county is not aware of any additional cases of the virus but officials will continue to closely monitor the situation. He doesn’t want people to feel like they can’t live their lives. 

“This is something that we're taking in stride and we're all still going about our normal daily lives here because the likelihood of being infected isn't that high,” Lipsher said. “And even with contracting the illness, with proper and prompt medical care and no other health complications, we can expect that most people who contract this will recover in a matter of a few days.”

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